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Didier Drogba announces plan to retire

Vancouver Whitecaps II v Phoenix Rising FC

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 10: Didier Drogba #11 of Phoenix Rising FC runs on the field in the first half of the match against the Vancouver Whitecaps II at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex on June 10, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

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Didier Drogba’s famous goal celebration will become a relic in 2018.

Drogba, 39, is still playing in the second-tier of North American soccer for the club he has an ownership stake in, Phoenix Rising FC.

The Ivorian forward released a statement on Tuesday confirming he plans to retire in 2018.

“Ah, do you want a scoop? I think next year will be my last season,” Drogba said. “At some point you have to stop. I need to have time for my other projects. It’s good to play, but at 39, it holds me back a bit.”

Drogba has ripped it up in the USL this season for Phoenix, scoring 10 goals in 14 appearances, with his goals including trademark free kicks and powerful finishes.

A Chelsea legend, Drogba won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and a UEFA Champions League during his two stints at Stamford Bridge.

He is also the leading goalscorer in Ivory Coast’s history with 65 goals in 104 games and is the highest-scoring African player in Champions League history with 44 goals and the highest-scoring African player in PL history with 104 goals.

Drogba scored 164 goals in 381 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions and was influential in their first-ever European title success as he scored an equalizer to take the game to extra time and then scored the winning penalty kick against Bayern Munich in 2011-12.

The much-traveled forward also had spells at Le Mans, Guingamp, Marseille, Galatasaray, Shanghai Shenhua and Montreal Impact before landing at Phoenix for the twilight of his career where he became as much an ambassador for the club than a player.

It has long been suggested that Drogba will become part of Chelsea’s staff behind-the-scenes given his close friendship with Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

Whatever he does after he stops playing, Drogba’s legacy as one of the greatest strikers the game has ever seen will be intact. Even if many people didn’t know he was still playing in the USL for the past few seasons...

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